Michael J. de la Merced
c.2019 New York Times News Service
When they founded Harry’s as a shaving startup nearly nine years ago, Andy Katz-Mayfield and Jeff Raider sought to shake up a decades-old business dominated by two giants in the field.
Now, they’re joining forces with one of them.
Edgewell Personal Care, the company that owns the Schick and Wilkinson razor brands as well as Hawaiian Tropic, plans to announce Thursday that it will buy Harry’s for about $1.37 billion in stock and cash. The deal will lead to Katz-Mayfield and Raider running Edgewell’s operations in the United States.
It is the one of the largest recent examples an established business buying a younger, nimbler competitor born of the internet and predicated on reaching consumers in new ways. That has included deals like Unilever buying Dollar Shave Club, the other shaving startup sensation, for $1 billion three years ago, as well as Walmart acquiring the online menswear purveyor Bonobos for about $310 million.
Harry’s sells razors, face washes and lotions, as well as the Flamingo line of women’s razors and waxes, directly to consumers over the internet, offers subscriptions (a certain number of blades delivered to your home each month) and has struck a collaboration with the clothing retailer J. Crew. Based in New York, it owns the German factory that makes its blades and has invested in other businesses like Hims, a startup that sells hair-loss prevention products.
Edgewell, based in Shelton, Connecticut, was spun out of Energizer Holdings in 2015, and its oldest brand, Wilkinson, began making razors in 1898.
In the men’s shaving market, the combined Edgewell and Harry’s will remain a distant second to Procter & Gamble’s Gillette brand, which commanded 47.3% of the American market last year, according to data from Euromonitor. Edgewell’s top brands held about 13.6% of the market, while Harry’s had about 2.6%.
But executives from Edgewell and Harry’s said in an interview that they saw a chance to form a big, new consumer products company infused with both global reach and new ways of marketing to customers.
“We’ve had an interesting product portfolio, but we’ve lacked a way to communicate with the consumer,” Rod Little, Edgewell’s chief executive, said.
Talks between the two companies began in earnest shortly after Little was appointed to his post in March, the executives said. The Harry’s management team had considered alternatives, like an initial public offering, but combining with an established brand ultimately made the most sense.
“This got us where we wanted to go more quickly than some alternative route,” Katz-Mayfield said.
Under the terms of the deal, which was approved by both boards on Wednesday, 79% of Edgewell’s offer — just over $1 billion — would be in cash. The remainder would be in stock, giving Harry’s investors a roughly 11% stake in the combined company.
Katz-Mayfield and Raider will become co-presidents of Edgewell’s American operations, giving them a bigger perch and more brands to oversee and overhaul. Little will remain chief executive of the combined business.
The deal is expected to close by March 31, 2020.